Make the shift toward digital enablement: Start with human capital

aerial view of three employees with headsets working on computers

I rented a car last week and interacted with a customer service agent miles away – through a kiosk. The experience got me thinking about the shift in skills needed to conduct business today.

In the past, the rental company would have had to train a person in the local city to walk me through the specific procedures required. Now, their needs have shifted to technology products (both hardware and software) that connect me and my data to a virtual customer service agent. Because the process is now automated, the agent can process the transaction quickly and focus more on delivering customer service and cross-selling.

Digital enablement is transforming businesses

This is just one example of how digital technology has integrated into industries and fundamentally impacted the way products and services are delivered and the experience customers have. These changes have in turn influenced the types of talent needed to deliver on a changing value proposition.

More and more, we see traditional assets such newspapers, records and books turn into data assets living in the cloud. Person-to-person interactions, such as doctor visits, banking and retail transactions, turn into virtual experiences that are efficient and fulfilling.

But to unlock its full value, organizations must think beyond technology alone to keep step with the way business is transacted today and focus on human capital.

Here are three steps to assist with digital transformation:

  1. Consider what changes may be necessary to redefine culture, capabilities and in some cases the organizational model. This may include reviewing key business processes, structures, roles, jobs and metrics. The talent you need to meet your new business strategy may not be attracted to the value proposition you have today. Are there ways to segment and/or modify your proposition to attract a broader range of talent?
  2. Understand that new ways of working may be needed. Your current work environment may not be conducive to the way work gets done today. Consider: Will speed to market take on increased significance? Will you need to introduce agile ways of working in some parts of the organization? Will you rely on different types of talent than in the past (e.g., more software engineers, data scientists, freelancers, contractors, part-time workers?) Will you need to outsource some of these tasks? How do jobs need to be reinvented; i.e., broken down into tasks?
  3. Be prepared for potentially new ways of rewarding your talent. As your talent pipeline changes, the types of rewards needed may change as well. Does a one-size-fits-all approach to pay continue to make sense? Will incentives be more important for some roles? Will a need for sharing in profits and/or equity be critical to attract and retain certain types of talent? Willis Tower’s Watson’s latest survey will provide up-to-date data on rewarding digital talent.

Final thoughts

We are at an exciting time, and it is important for Human Resources to lead the organization in realizing the value of a digital transformation to business strategy. While technology is key, the real shift toward digital enablement starts with human capital, with reshaping talent, rewards and work to get the most out of what technology offers.


Laurie Bienstock head shotLaurie Bienstock is Global Practice Leader of Talent Management at Willis Towers Watson.

Categories: Employee Engagement, Employee rewards, Future of Work | Tags: , , , , ,

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